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Hotchkiss board considers variances, HopeWest donation

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Members of the Hotchkiss Town Council granted one variance request and denied another at their monthly meeting June 14. Both decisions fell in line with recommendations from the Hotchkiss Planning Commission.

Roya Beklik owns the lot at the corner of Bridge and 2nd street, which she uses for a flea/farmer's market every Saturday. She would like to put up storage units, some for her own use and others she can rent out to offset the cost of maintaining her property. She told council members she had already purchased one of the two 10x24-foot buildings she plans to place on the back side of the lot. Each building contains four 6x10-foot storage areas.

Because storage units are not a use by right in the commercial district, Beklik applied for a variance. Council members had mixed feelings about her proposal, but ultimately sided with three neighboring property owners who opposed the concept. "Storage units are not compatible with the downtown core," trustee Mary Hockenbery said.

Beklik asked if it would be possible to erect a storage unit for her use only, and was advised to review regulations with town staff.

Marcus Brozina sought a variance from setback requirements for a shed he plans to build at his home at 542 Aspen Lane. Planning commission members recommended approval of the variance, contingent on Brozina's research into DMEA easements. Brozina learned that the shed can be placed in DMEA's easement, with the understanding that if it has to be moved, it will be up to Brozina to bear the expense. With that understanding, trustees unanimously approved Brozina's request.

Later in the meeting, Mayor Larry Wilkening appointed Roger Christian to the planning commission, which brings it to full strength.

Trustees approved the use of Willow Heights Park June 25-26 for a church day camp, and heard a request for a donation from HopeWest. Community development director Nancy Hovde said end-of-life care is provided to all, regardless of financial status. In Hotchkiss, through Dec. 31, 2017, HopeWest served 12 hospice patients, three children/teens in the kids' grief support program and four adults in bereavement counseling.

The town budgeted $3,300 for donations in 2018. After reviewing the funds already designated for annual events such as the community Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, trustees decided they could not contribute to HopeWest at this time.

Trustees also heard from Mike Savarro, owner of Mike's Barber Shop, who objected to the closure of Oak Avenue for the Farm to Fiddle festival. Because of a lack of customer parking, he said he lost two days of business.

This year, Oak Avenue will not be closed for the festival but Savarro is still concerned about the lack of available parking. He asked for designated parking spots for his customers.

After a brief discussion with trustees and town staff, Savarro was told he could put up temporary signs on the planter boxes, but compliance would be entirely voluntary.

Trustee Esther Koontz also suggested that a separate parking area be designated for vendors.

The Farm to Fiddle Festival is held in conjunction with the Delta County Fair Aug. 10 and 11.

As the meeting came to a close, Mayor Larry Wilkening recognized Gary Oberle and the crew of Ace Gambles for their efforts to beautify the community.

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